Revisiting the 7 Habits of Highly Successful People.

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People was first published in 1989 and was written by Stephen Covey.

 The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People was first published in 1989 and was written by Stephen Covey. As a young, impressional new retail manager with at the time Australia’s Coles Myer, this book was more than influential in my early business career. However, thirty-one years later, is the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People still worthy of adoption today? 

  When Covey first introduced the concept of a paradigm shift, I must confess it was a little bit hard to digest the time in my early 20s precisely what was going on. As a brand new manager so-to-speak, I guess I felt that I didn’t have any fundamental areas of my mindset or learnt habits that felt like they required a paradigm shift. However, I did in brace conceptually benefit of mastering the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, and I wanted to have a career that had benefits extracted from independence, interdependence and continual improvement.

Independence – Self Mastery

1. Be proactive.

Being proactive is undoubtedly a skill set that is required today. We have seen an about-face in globalisation over the last 6 months. It could be said that many well-thought-out and laid plans career paths relationships and networks have all now been tested and challenged like never before. Being proactive therefore is an essential skill and tool that must be adopted to navigate our new business landscape.

 I have had an incredible corporate coach guide me through the “Locus of Control” and the benefit of owning how to make things happen. Understanding that you must take responsibility for your own actions is a crucial element today. Being proactive is an essential resource and habit of highly successful people in 2020.

2. Begin with the end in mind

Embracing the goal upfront, spending time clarifying and focusing on the vision, is a very effective way to knock out potential distractions or as experienced project managers will evangelise “scope creeps”. It could be argued with today’s fast-paced and ever-changing world, that time may not exist that can be productively invested in goal and vision setting. However, it is a crucial discipline in my view to be clear on the destination, the vision and the goal not only as oneself but importantly within the leadership group and business.

3. Put first things first

Putting first things first, as explored in Stephen Covey 7 Habits of Highly Successful People, focuses on organising your priorities into 4 different quadrants. I have seen most peoples productivity be controlled the email inbox, i.e. an email comes in, and the person is distracted. In contrast, organised executives have the discipline to take the email inbox offline for several hours during the day. 

Putting first things first in my definition has become not about quadrants or to-do lists, but more about affirmative action of tasks setting and direct transposing into my calendar. For example, I simply have one archive folder in my email. Once the email is read, I archive it. If a task is required, I simply make that email a spot in my calendar ( a job to do). This method reflects the importance of the tasks. By default those things that are urgent and required immediately clearly take up space sooner in my diary then those that are not as important are longer along the timeline. I have also experienced far less stress or anxiety related to my daily workflows by adopting this method and therefore putting first things first is a habit that I believe I have mastered.

It is Possible

Interdependence – Working with Others

4. Think win-win

The success of the business today cannot be achieved without thinking win-win. Taking this concept possibly to it’s extreme, could be “placing the planet alongside profits” this is a win for business and the environment? So, is this an example of a major paradigm shift? I think it is.

 Considering the needs of others and being aware of your personal impact and understanding the power of collaboration and networking, is a vital skill set in today’s world. Thinking win-win has extended to understanding the ethics and drivers of the corporate partner’s you attract. Working with a firm that has adopted Sustainable Development Goals, for example, is a market-facing confirmation of proper alignment. 

Thinking win-win is demonstrated in response to COVID-19 with corporations now trusting staff members to work from home. It may have been impossible for some corporations to allow the majority of their workforce is to work remotely before this pandemic. But I know from a personal perspective, enjoying the trust of your corporation promotes a real feeling of win-win. Success, therefore, is a mutual perspective and still relevant today.

5. Seek first to understand, then to be understood

I am a fan of Simon Sinek TED Talk on finding yours why. Understanding another person’s perspective and the view is a crucial element to today’s multi-generational workforce. Variations of this habit could be following your own emotional intelligence. With real discipline, the modern leader has to indeed be focused on high integrity, and concentration or your credibility goes out the window. I understand as a father up two children and a businessman with several different ventures, this particular point first hand. 

Referring to habit 3 put first things first, I have discovered the need on some occasions to plan or create time to support this habit of seeking first to understand and then to be understood. If I were to be genuinely transparent, this has been the hardest personal habit to master. So by this disclosure, I am agreeing that habit 5 seeking first to understand and then be understood, is still relevant today in 2020. Indeed, possibly one of the most essential practices for me from the book of 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.

6. Synergise

This habit effectively explores solid and progressive teamwork. Meaning it is a crucial element of a highly successful person that teams are assembled and deployed where open and honest dialogue drives high achievement and collaboration. It can be challenging for some executives to invest and build the competencies of others around them in their team if they don’t understand a lot about themselves. I have witnessed the lack of development of individual subordinates because a manager or leader had formed the view that the aide could potentially be better than them. I have had quite the opposite experienced over my career. The benefit of developing members of your team to their full abilities, allowing specialists to operate as real subject matter experts has helped the team get more significant results and therefore attracted better outcomes. 

It is a collective experience to have members of the team with particular skill sets and passions invested in. The sense of community and ownership of common purpose is more important and relevant in today’s society in my view than ever before. 

Success word cloud with business concepts on chalkboard

Continual improvement

7. Sharpen the saw

If ever we needed a reminder about the importance of sharpening the saw, then one could not look any further than the events of early 2020. Understanding how a balanced and active lifestyle impacts your effectiveness as a leader is a crucial element of a highly competent person. 

Personally, pursuing further education and independent research is a necessary discipline that should be adopted. Moving deeper understanding your impact on others and the planet is another Revelation that can help provide purpose and context to what it is that you do and can achieve. The best investment you can ever make is in yourself focusing on your life be at physical social, mental and spiritual. 

I’ve had the pleasure of witnessing several high achievers over my career and on my life journey. The one common element amongst the group that I saw was the sense of purpose and commitment towards the personal goals. For me, this has become about making a positive impact on the people I meet. To do this, I must continually grow and develop to be effective with my contribution. This is a continuous improvement process and therefore is still a relevant and required habit of Highly Effective People.

7 Habits of Highly Effective People Summary

So, in summary, yes, the concepts of 7 Habits of Highly Effective People may have evolved over the last 31 years. However, in my opinion, the relevance of the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People is still a must-read and must adopt a book for any aspiring future leader. 


About the author

Lucas Sadler Professional Profile Lucas transitioned to the Energy Business in 2010 (from FMCG), with Executive responsibility for establishing Sales and Branch offices in the highly competitive Renewable Energy Sector (Solar & Storage). Lucas led the Contestable Energy Sales Team at EnergyAust ... more
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